Sunday, October 18, 2009

It Must Be Fall

I just perused my Facebook feed and learned that my friends spent the weekend picking apples, checking out the fall colors at state parks in Minnesota and Wisconsin, watching football, and cursing the broken heat in their apartments. It must be fall in the Midwest.

Usually at this time of year, I'm doing delicious things with pumpkins. Legal things, I assure you. For example, pumpkin soup makes a hearty fall meal. I'll buy cans of pumpkin for pumpkin bread duels. Is pumpkin bread better light and spicy or full of chocolate chips? Chocolate lovers are easily swayed by the chips but the spiced bread ended up with more votes. The one redeeming factor of fall has always been pumpkin.

But when I went looking for canned pumpkin, it was sold out, and the local market was too small to carry it. I was eager to make a bread that was warm and spicy and went well with tea. So I turned to another squash. Zucchini is a summer squash, one that doesn't get much as much attention as the pumpkin. It doesn't get carved with eyes, nose, and mouth, it doesn't get baked into a famous holiday pie. The humble zucchini doesn't have a strong personality. By itself, it can make a lovely, light salad tossed with lemon and olive oil and oregano, or it can be sauteed and drizzled with honey. But blended into a bread flavored with cinnamon, it melts away. So you can tell yourself you're eating healthy. You know you put a whole squash in there because it will look like it's all zucchini when it goes into the oven. You'd never know it when it comes out, moist and not too sweet, with a crunchy crust. The summer zucchini, like the trees around here, has lost its green.

Zucchini Bread
makes 2 loaves

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

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